Audio Terms and Definitions in the Industry - Sound4VO Blog

3 May 2011
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Dan Friedman, microphoneAudio Terms and Definitions

Good communication is a key to success in all relationships. Often miscommunication and misunderstandings between people occur because
they simply don’t know how to “speak the same language”. I’m
not talking about the difference between English and Chinese. I’m
talking about technical audio terms. In the business world, nearly every
type of business, has a name for everything they do. The recording and
voiceover world is no different.

In an effort to overcome the “language barrier” that often exists
among engineers, directors, clients and talent, my friends and I have put together a glossary of voice over studio terms
that everyone in this business should know.

While individual studios and production companies may also have unique
terminology that is used internally, this list will provide you with
key terms that are fairly universal throughout the industry.

Enjoy!

AUDIO TERMS and DEFINITIONS

ADR – (Automated Dialog Replacement) Also referred to as ʻloopingʼ.
The process of replacing a voice over for an on-camera talent.

Compression – The use of an audio processor to control audio dynamics
(loudness and softness) on a piece of audio. It can be arcoxia 90 applied to
individual parts as well as to an overall production.

Data compression – Process designed to reduce the transmission
bandwidth requirement of digital audio streams and the storage size of
audio files.

De-breathing – The process of removing all breaths from a vocal
performance.

Editing – The process of removing unwanted portions of audio, leaving
only the portion that will be used in the final production. May or may
not include de-breathing.

Equalization (EQ) – The use of an audio processor to manipulate the
frequencies that exist within all sounds heard by the human ear.

Audio File Formats – Common uncompressed audio file types used in
audio production are: AIFF & WAV. Compressed audio files are
typically MP3.

ISDN – Integrated Services Digital Network – A communication
standard allowing the transmission of voice (as well as video and
data) from one studio to another over telephone lines in high speed,
digital quality and with great fidelity.

Limiting – The use of an audio processor to keep audio from exceeding
a certain level or threshold as determined by the engineer.

Maximization or Maximize – A mastering process that includes the use
of an audio processor to bring audio up to a maximum level as
determined by the engineer.

Mix – A fully produced, finished or broadcast ready audio
presentation that may include voice, music, sound effects, all
necessary processing and maximization. Usually provided in stereo
unless the final format is mono only (such as a phone system)

Mixing – The process of manipulating and combining multiple audio
signals or elements to create a final audio production or mix.

Noise – Any sound that is undesirable or unwanted.

Processing – Any alteration of raw audio through the use of audio
tools such as compression, equalization (EQ), maximization, or time-
based/space-based effects (i.e. – delay or reverb).

Raw Audio – Any recorded audio that is unedited and unprocessed.
Delivery of “raw audio” means to provide clients with audio exactly
as it was recorded.

Reverb – A space/time based effect that simulates an environment. All
environments have an effect on a sound within that environment.
Example: A voice heard in a stadium sounds different than a voice
heard in a closet. Reverb can be used to simulate the sound of both
environments. Some people refer to this as “echo” (IMPORTANT NOTE:
the use of reverb is very dependent on an overall production and
therefore is rarely added unless a full mix is being produced).

Sample Rate/Bit Rate – Essentially the amount of digital information
used by the computer in the creation of an audio file. The higher the
rate, the higher the supposed quality of the file. However, beyond a
certain point (for most people above 44.1kHz/16 bit) the difference in
sound quality is undetectable. Therefore, the need to obtain/verify
this information becomes necessary primarily for compatibility among
files or systems.

44.1kHz/16bit = CD quality audio

48kHz/16bit = Video standard for audio

Slate – A recorded audio cue that identifies the audio that follows.
Generally stated as, “take one (followed by the recorded VO), take
two (followed by the recorded VO) take three…” etc.

Stems – Individual elements of a mix provided separately. Voice,
music, and sound effects provided as separate files instead of
combined in a full mix.

Takes – A separate file of recorded audio. Each take is identified by
a separate file name and a slate.

Time Compression/Expansion – An electronic process using an algorithm
which leaves the pitch of the signal intact while changing its speed
(tempo)

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